Medscape reports that scientists have identified chlorhexidine-resistant clinical isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae that are also cross-resistant to colistin, a last-resort antibiotic. The finding is alarming, as chlorhexidine is commonly used in disinfectants used in the home and in healthcare settings. The new research suggests that exposure to the chlorhexidine is associated with stable resistance to the antibiotic colistin.
Colistin stands as an antibiotic of last resort for multidrug-resistant infections, so the discovery has clinical implications for both infection prevention procedures and treatment of multidrug resistance. The new discovery raises concern that disinfectant use represents a novel path for bacteria to develop resistance to all existing antibiotics.